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ENG 111: College Composition I (Bozick-LO)

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Formatting Keywords


When typing words into database search boxes, you want to be as precise as possible. Think of talking to a database as talking to a two-year-old. Just like a two-year-old, the database needs explicit instructions.

To best accomplish this, there are some key conventions to use when searching in databases:

(1) Nest related terms in parenthesis, using "OR" between them. This tells the database to look for any of those terms

     ex. (norms OR ethics OR values)

(2) Put phrases (search terms of more than one word) in quotation marks. This tells the database to look for that exact phrase.

     ex. "social class"

(3) Link nested sets of related terms with AND. This tells the database to look for sources that have at least one term from each set.

     ex. (norms OR ethics OR values) AND ("social class" or "socioeconomic status")

Creating Your Search Statements

Once you have your research question or research topic, what strategies should you use to get the most relevant results in the shortest amount of time?